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Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan
says business reform means more jobs.
Photo: James Knowler
Parties ignore economy
Key economic reforms are
being ignored in the federal
election campaign when they
should be "front and centre" say
local business leaders.
Tax reforms, government spend-
ing, energy policy and banking
regulations need urgent attention
they say, before consumers and
taxpayers are burdened with rising
costs and charges.
"Many of these issues were
stalled by the onset of the global
financial crisis, but now is the
time to deal with them," said
Business SA s chief executive Peter
He s concerned that the staged
and scripted campaign is not giving
voters a chance to decide which
party offers the better options for
"So far it s been a farce," Mr
Vaughan said. "We are at an
economic crossroads and there are
no signs suggesting which direction
we can take.
"There is a raft of economic
reforms that should be front and
centre in this campaign, but it s
clear that they are not high on the
agenda of both parties."
Motor Trades Association
CEO John Chapman said his
industry was also baffled by some
of the policies and were sorting
through announcements looking
for detail to see how they would
"The Cash for Clunkers scheme
came out of the blue and it took us
a few days to find out how it would
operate," Mr Chapman said.
"We also asked what would
happen to the vehicles that are
traded in -- and the Government
said it didn t know yet.
"We need better than that."
Restaurant and Catering
Association national president
Peter Doyle, in Adelaide this week
for a national executive meeting,
said people in his industry should
start knocking down the doors
of MPs and candidates to "let
them know what you think about
proposed changes to penalty rates
and what impact it will have on our
The business leaders were gener-
ally disappointed that the political
campaign had so far steered clear of
Peter Vaughan believes economic
reform can t be delayed any longer.
"We were happy for government
to put reforms on the back-burner
while they dealt with the global
issues, but those reforms are needed
to make sure jobs are available in
the near future.
"Banking is a classic example.
During the crisis, government
moved to protect our banks with
a guarantee and the big four did
especially well out of that.
"Now that the danger has passed
for them we would expect that they
might release the restrictions on
lending to small and medium-sized
businesses. Instead, they are cherry
picking and lending in the less
risky housing loans sector.
"The problem with that is that if
you don t allow small and medium
enterprises to invest and build, then
you strangle jobs growth in a sector
that accounts for two thirds of all
Mr Vaughan also pointed to debt
and tax reform as issues demanding
"The Government realised that
we needed tax reform and they
commissioned the Henry Review.
"He slaved away for a year and
then the Government sat on its
nest for another six months before
finally releasing its response. And
all we got was a boiled egg.
"All of Henry s work is just
sitting there. The Government
response of introducing an increase
in the superannuation levy wasn t
even in his report.
"And their so-called tax cut for
business was restricted to corpora-
tions and two thirds of businesses
aren t corporatised."
Mr Vaughan said debt was becom-
ing more urgent by the day.
"Every day we are in debt is
another day that we pay interest
instead of putting that money into
private sector investment capital,
which also is crucial to jobs growth.
"We must return to surplus."
He labelled the debate on climate
change as "farcical".
"We ve got to find a way to deal
with climate change issues and the
ongoing uncertainty of policy is
stopping investment in the energy
"If that continues, then you can
expect electricity prices to soar and
that will hurt everyone."
Mr Chapman said the automotive
industry had benefitted from
government policies in the tough
times, but there seemed to be a
current reluctance to address
"We were very pleased with the
OzCar solution to the industry s
wholesale financing problems and a
lot of businesses were saved.
"But we are keen to resolve the
luxury car tax that was imposed.
It s a very discriminatory tax
because no other industry has
a separate tax for a part of its
output," he said.
"There are also concerns with
fair trading laws, national coordina-
tion of motor trades training and
Anti-steering refers to the
current case where consumers
are steered towards a preferred
supplier when having collision
"We would prefer that the
consumer has a choice and that
there is more competition in that
market. An anti-steering system
works well in the USA and we
believe that deserves consideration
With just three weeks remaining
till polling day, business s long shop-
ping list is unlikely to be fulfilled.
South Australia is ranked the 10th most
prospective mining location in the world, with
jobs doubling in the past eight years.
And that's just one of the advantages of our state.
South Australia is digging deep.
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